A Winner Of Awards – 15th January 2023

The man with the winning smile
Wins a front-page reward
His shiny teeth are squeaky clean
But he speaks like a machine
And everyone got bored
The man stands above the crowd
Surveys the plebs around
A swinging dick and shiny head
But a nightly empty bed
With no friends to be found

Today I’m feeling:
Relaxed and chilled. Cancelled riding over to see Matt as I feel lazy and want to enjoy my home for another day. May go to Daytripper later but I thought that yesterday and ended up not getting there.
Today I’m grateful for:
Nut and Bruno again, this time bringing me food because they are going away for a week. A whole banoffee. I need to work these calories off!
The best thing about today was:
Walking in our driveway in the dark and looking at the clear night sky and the brightest nearest stars. I do this most nights and feel how inconsequential I am in the bigger scheme. I’m smaller than an ant. An atom or even less.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I had minimal interactions with people today and nothing went wrong at home. I have spent 95% of the day in my head where I had full (?) control. Maybe I couldn’t control my laziness today and I handled that with a delicious nap.
Something I learned today?
I learned that I can use ChatGPT to write lesson plans! But I will investigate more as I want to come up with more fun ideas for the classroom.
What are your top two favourite apps or websites?
Website is definitely Bandcamp as I use it to host promote and sell the tenzenmen catalogue. It’s easy to use as a seller and as a buyer and researcher.
As for an app, apart from this one (Day One) at the moment, it is probably Substack as it collects interesting newsletters for me to read when I’m free, rather than clogging up my inbox.

Art took this picture because he used it to post to Facebook to show Utopia is open. I don’t like myself in this picture though. I’d like to cut off my sagging chin!

The Turning – 7th January 2023

The leaves turned brown since you left
I sweep them away across the floor
Piled up along with my memories
As we said goodbye once more
On your return, the flowers will bloom
And the bees buzz with more steel
The ground spurts flowers where you step
The unreal, once again, real

Today I’m feeling:
Satisfied and relaxed.
Today I’m grateful for:
The friendly people in the Lahu village, who gave Bruno and me a plate of fruit to eat whilst we curiously watched them playing a traditional spinning tops sport.
The best thing about today was:
Several moments of complete satisfaction seeing things on the ride today. Just the simple thing of seeing a couple of puppies follow their human mum across a dirt yard in a traditional wooden shack village surrounded by green and under a bright blue sky was the first in a series of sublime moments. Wonderful.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Nothing springs to mind as being out of my control today. Is that because I just accept everything for what it is or because I was in control of everything? I think the former is more likely than the latter.
Something I learned today?
I guessed I learned the route along the Mae Kok to the west of Chiang Rai and that it can be pretty and with reasonable roads when it’s dry. I’d do this ride again I think. I must’ve learned some minor bits and pieces from Bruno as we were riding and chatting but nothing that jumps out. I learned that Amy can fly from Bangkok to Sydney in the time it takes me to ride to Tha Ton and back!
What’s in the news today?
I have no real idea. I don’t watch any news much but may find out about certain things through YouTube videos and most of what I watch there is not about news but is sometimes commentary on certain current events. I don’t know what’s happening in Australia, the UK and particularly little in Thailand. Almost all news is irrelevant to my life.

I took this picture because these are the happy Lahu kids Bruno and I met next to the river somewhere between here and Tha Ton. They were so happy and surprised to see us.

One Time Phenomenon – 4th January 2023

Unique DNA makes you
What you are
Primal inclinations
Forces within
Moved to action
Mind grows
A seed planted
One time phenomenon

Inspired and borrowed from The Daily Laws by Robert Greene

Today I’m feeling:
Tired but happy and satisfied.
Today I’m grateful for:
The pizza oven at Bruno and Nut’s for quickly baking delicious pizza for me, Amy, mum and dad. Nut had prepared the dough and ingredients and we made our own pizza toppings. Bruno enjoyed talking with Amy’s dad and got us all invited to their home for a Chinese New Year celebration in a few weeks time.
The best thing about today was:
Seeing Tangmo and his friend running, playing and rolling around on our lawn as I was eating breakfast. It made me smile, these stupid crazy dogs having fun at our house. Just a few seconds later they were gone and I saw them running up the street in the distance.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
The way I structured my last class of the day meant many students could take advantage and do as little work as they wanted but they needed to be ready when they were called. As it was the end of the day some students were keen to leave early and eventually when I called the next student they weren’t there, even though the class wasn’t over. I was a little disappointed but not surprised anymore. I was able to get some useful work out of maybe 60% of them and that would have to be as good as it was going to get. I need to think about a better way to keep the ‘free’ students occupied whilst I’m busy with others. I’m still a work in progress myself. Always learning.
Something I learned today?
Nut had prepared an Akha herb that I’d never tried before. It looked a little like a mini-sized mint and tasted a little like rocket with a hint of something which I’m not quite sure of. It was nice to munch on and add to the top of the pizza.
List three of your “greatest hits” from last year.
Greatest hits….? Hmm… In fact, a quick reflection doesn’t seem to generate any greatest hits particularly and I think that is a better place to be in. Having hits or highs would also mean having lows and I’d much prefer not to have those these days. But at a push…

  1. Riding around the rice fields behind the airport was nice, especially at golden hour. I did a few trips there during the October holiday and really felt serene.
  2. Another bike ride around the same time of year, this time with Bruno and across many mountains to the Burmese border and hanging out at a country school there.
  3. Meeting, befriending and watching my new groups of students. Seeing them learn and grow even a little was very rewarding.
I took this picture because Fon brought her handmade cookies last night but I only saw them today. This is a great one of me from a picture taken just a couple of days ago. I bet I taste good too.

Shaken and Stirred – 15th December 2022

The drudgery of the day to day
Took our childlike sense away
No longer dwarfed by all around
Bored with all the knowledge found
No longer novel and mysterious
Everything became so serious
Less scared of what’s seen and heard
Memories need to be shaken and stirred
The eyes of children opened wide
Light pouring in deep down inside
Inspiration to seek the sublime
A world in which you can redefine

The battle against conformity requires you to adhere to another kind of conformity.

Dana Kletter, from Manchild 5

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and positive though a little tired due to the lack of sleep from recent nights.
Today I’m grateful for:
The school director thanking us teachers for our hard work and effort at his school. Even if it was just a vague excuse for a meeting arranged by TLC as pats on each other’s backs, I still appreciate that he said these things. Most of the time we feel quite unrecognised and underappreciated. Of course, no pay rise, no bonus, and no Christmas gifts for us! Oh well, my coffee schedule messed up by the meeting I took the opportunity to invite David to House for a quick Kickstarter brew.
The best thing about today was:
My unruly class of kids in 1/7. Before it started I took Goy aside and asked how she felt about my class. She’s a quiet and top-grade productive student and I don’t get chance to talk with her much. She said she liked the class but when prompted said that it was too easy. I know this and apologised to her but she understood that I have many low-skilled students to manage. I asked her about her classmates and she said they were very annoying and make it difficult to concentrate. Obviously, I agreed and I thanked her for her thoughts. I was glad that she was happy with me as a teacher at least. Back in class, the kids wandered in lazily and mostly in high spirits. The two that I kicked out on Tuesday sheepishly laid low in their seats but I made an effort to try and engage Nong Aoi though she insisted she couldn’t write because her hand was hurting. I tried to make it fun by writing with my other hand which she tried for about ten seconds before giving up. With my left hand I write ‘Aoi ❤️ ?’ and Saipan and Rista got excited and said ‘Geno’. So I got a little embarrassed but it gave me an idea. I quickly got to a break point with some writing and hooked up the speaker and searched YouTube for Dexys ‘Geno’ and started playing it. Many kids got up to dance including Aoi and she had a big smile on her face. It was good to see. I settled them all back down with a promise to play it again at the end of the class. After a while, Aoi asked to escort another student who was feeling sick to the bathroom, however, a few minutes later she turned up with four boys, one of which was Geno. They stuck around for a while but got bored waiting until the end of class. When it did come I played Geno again and other excited dancing kids asked for a couple of other songs and that’s how it ended. I love these kids, one moment crazy upset, the next crazy happy. Just like every other human you ever met.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Last night I found a scratch on Kim Chi that looked pretty serious. Amy was concerned and we talked about whether and when to take her to the vet. It was already 9.30 and I was ready to sleep. We decided not to go then but spent the next couple of hours trying to clean the wound and watching her, putting on a collar to stop her licking and discussing what to do today. As we give her a special medicine for her leukaemia, we don’t generally give her any other medicine from the vet so as not to mix them. She seemed ok this morning and ate without a problem, just annoyed at having her collar on. I called Amy later from school and she’d cleaned up Kim’s room again and decided to keep her there to keep her out of any more trouble. When I got home though she seemed to be more uncomfortable with the wound, which is right on her empty ballbag and was weeping a little cloudy fluid. We quickly decided we should take her to the vet which meant a 2-hour round trip and not a relaxing evening at home. But this is what we do for those we love and so I enjoyed the drive, the traffic, the vets and everything else. I could’ve been annoyed at this loss of free time but I turned it into positive time. The vet advised to bring her again tomorrow which throws out some other plans but this is the way we have to roll.
Something I learned today?
Talking to David over a coffee he told me new things about South Africa that I didn’t know. There are maybe 11 tribal groups in South Africa, all with slightly different cultures. Since the end of the apartheid, the ANC has ruled non-stop but corruption is rife and although overt racism has gone it still exists in more subtle ways. The government is seemingly directed by rich bankers and billionaires ensuring their money keeps rolling in. David said he has come across many more South Africans in Thailand recently as folks are getting out to seek a better future, something which is not possible for the majority. Of course, it’s far more complicated but the underlying immorality and inhumanity are obvious. Perhaps inhumanity is actually the default of humans. Humanity is only something achieved in small doses.
Which aspects do you think makes a person unique?
It’s late already and I would like to write more about this but it also seems obvious that the answer would be ‘every aspect’. There’s no getting around the fact that everyone is unique.

I took this picture because, on a valley bike ride with Bruno, he recommended stopping at this fish restaurant for me to check out. We had a small quick meal and chatted overlooking the fish pond. It was only about 2pm and the owners/staff were lazing around one of the tables. Bruno seemed to think they were high or perhaps they were just in that chilled laid back zone of rural northern Thailand. We were also greeted by an assortment of shaggy dogs and scrawny cats, happily playing, hunting, snacking and snoozing. Lazy days at the fish pond restaurant on a road off the beaten track. A ‘local’ fish pond restaurant for ’local’ people.

Bubbles and Beans – 13th December 2022

Comfort is the refuge of the petty man
Trudging along without a plan
Distracted by familiar patterns seen
You’re a human doing not a human being
Can you find within your space
A place without a human trace?
Quiet the symbols and the words
Talk to the rocks and the birds

The concept of greatness entails being noble, wanting to be by oneself, being able to be different, standing alone and having to live independently.


Today I’m feeling:
Ok, mellow enough
Today I’m grateful for:
Nong Nam and Nong Aoi for testing my patience today. I asked them to do something in class and they refused so I asked them to leave, to which they immediately complied. It was a little comical but it was good that they just left. Better for everyone.
The best thing about today was:
I got home early again and went off for a bike ride with Bruno and we actually ended up at the place we intended for once. When we got there there was a big building and a sign for the area: ‘Non-Hunting Area’. It was the end of the road and we were kind of interested to walk up the mountain a bit behind the building. It seemed we disturbed the people ‘working’ there as the five or six dogs they had came running and barking. I have no idea what these people do there and I’m pretty sure we woke most of them up!
After a few minutes, the dogs settled down and we talked with ‘the boss’ for a bit, who suggested coming in the morning time when it’s more pretty. The dogs started sniffing and licking around us and had now become very curious and friendly. They were well-kept and beautiful.
It was a quick and nice ride all-in-all, through the valley and to the edge of the mountain. Another little part of the area explored.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Last night I slept very poorly though it was mostly a case of being uncomfortable and tossing and turning through the night the result of which had me expecting to feel very tired today. To try to ward this off though I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and told myself I was feeling good and I would feel good all day. I knew I had two classes and planned to go for a ride in the afternoon, which I could have easily blown off if I wanted to rest but somehow today I felt a little more motivated and wanted to try to overcome this recent lethargy.
Something I learned today?
I learned from Bruno what a tapioca tree looks like and that under each tree can be a great number of large tubers from which a few different things can be made. When I was little my mum used to make tapioca pudding for me and for some reason as Bruno was talking about these tubers I was imagining them to be full of tapioca pearls which simply fell out of it. I realised my stupidity once I saw a picture of a cut tuber though! Duh! Apparently, they are easy to grow and of course, as soon as we rode around a bit we saw them everywhere.

I took this picture because I had had enough of two of my students who were rude and disrespectful to me in class (see above) so I told them to get out. I was upset with them but I wasn’t in a bad mood and I laughed even more when another student (Jet) handed this drawing to me.

Twatter – 7th November 2022

Smash them in the shitter
Fry their dicks in batter
Friends of Gary Glitter
Fuck ’em, they don’t matter
Freedom, guns and fuck yous
The new intellectual debate
Pretending to be news
In the amphitheatres of late

You must always respect those who struggle, even if they are defeated.

from Burmese Moons by Sophie Ansel

Today I’m feeling:
Today I’m grateful for:
Trying to engage some of the ‘bad’ girls in my class and able to draw them into enjoying finding solutions or seeing how to think about something in a different way.
The best thing about today was:
Catching up on some things during the three-and-a-half-hour break between classes. Each day of the week has a different schedule that I can utilise in different ways. Mondays will be catch-up days.
Daily thought
Do you rule over yourself?
I try. But there are some things that I don’t wish to give up that just to feel that I do rule over myself. For instance, I take a mix of sertraline, tramadol and kratom which keeps me very well-balanced and in a good state of mind. I understand that it would be preferable to be able to maintain that balance without these things but I’m happy to let them rule over me for now.
What are three things you couldn’t live without?
How to answer this? Air, food, water? Or, really there’s nothing that I couldn’t live without? I enjoy the things I have in my life but if I didn’t have them I could still live. So, I guess I could think of the question like this – what are three things you prefer not to live without. Maybe that’s easy too. Amy, books, music. If I could have four then I would add cats.

I took this picture because on our bike ride on Saturday Bruno and I ended up in Doi Hua Mae Kham and rode around this developing village with freshly laid concrete. The format of the panorama doesn’t show quite how steep the road is or how spectacular the views were (unless you zoom in a little).

The Fog – 5th November 2022

Unable to touch, seems so far away
The lighthouse smashed relentless
The turmoil of storms on display
This fiery cloud is scentless
Securely wrapped in a blanket
Resisting the push and pull
With enlightenment to thank it
Let no self-deception rule

inspired by a Robert Greene piece

Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

Neil Postman

Today I’m feeling:
Settled and satisfied.
Today I’m grateful for:
Bruno suggesting we ride to Doi Mae Kham which is a place I’d been thinking to go to since 2 years ago. On the map it’s easy to see that is on a piece of land that sticks out into Burma so kinda encourages investigation. In the end though it wasn’t spectacular but a pleasant enough long ride to fill the day.
The best thing about today was:
Finding Kim and Cap hiding next to each in boxes in the walk in. There haven’t been too many fireworks tonight but I think they’ll be hiding in there a lot this coming week.
How do you feel about cold weather?
Cold or hot weather, so long as I can get out of it it’s great. Cold weather in Thailand is relative and it feels great.

I took this picture because the neighbours had a burn off at dusk. It was pretty spectacular. Thankfully the wind was blowing the smoke away from the house.

We got that attitude! – 29th November 2020

I am so happy and grateful for the money I have behind me. I’m not rich by any means but have enough to do most anything that I want to do. Things would be a lot different if it wasn’t there.
I am so happy and grateful to have a friend with the same child-like wonder that I still have. We went for a long bike ride into the mountains, we didn’t talk much but were happy to be exploring the world with each other.

The Chiang Rai Alternative Hour #54 – 5th September 2020

Make medicine free!

This week there’s music from June of 44, Zoogz Rift, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Curse Ov Dialect and Kaigen, Psychos, P.F.M., Spratleys Japs, Asylum, Melt Banana, Patrick Fitzgerald, Spray Paint, The Black Sacks, Tactics, Rebel Truth, Attila The Stockbroker, Need New Body, Renaldo and The Loaf, Lifter Puller and Demikhov.

Intro and background music by Utotem.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful that I don’t have to teach this morning as originally planned. I can relax a little before we go to visit Bruno for his housewarming.

OK so he thinks he’s a human sometimes, I forgive everything when I look into his eyes – 17th June 2020

This lovely pup belongs to some workers at our school sometimes. He has a broken back and has to drag his back legs along the ground. He also can’t control his pee and poo. But he’s a happy dog still. The owner seemed to indicate it was himself who ran over the dog to cause its broken back though we may have missed something in translation. Either way, he seems to be taking reasonable care of him now. His coat is clean and healthy at least.

I would still like to buy him some wheels though.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for these lovely plants in our teacher’s room. They give a great feeling of welcoming and sharing and comfort.

9th Aug 2022 – picture now lost to time (digital lack of care!)

Brain dump

Mid-June, mid-year already, all plans changed but life remains mostly the same. Hüsker Dü – I Will Never Forget You – I don’t know why. Why Hüsker Dü – why do I know all these obscure songs that no one is really interested in these days? Never mind – it’s my life.

Cooler days – wet days, rain. Sticky still – first mini exercise in days got blood flowing, heart rate up, under 80 kg. Can I stay? Get rid of belly fat – still too much. Get a belly like Bruno but that guy has so much nervous energy.

Yesterday was amusing. Life Of Brian reference into Life Of George. Critique of religion. Reluctant Messiah. What is the truth? Does it even matter? JFK. UFO. Three-letter acronyms describe our world. Stupid world? Maybe.